Guam NSF EPSCoR talks Near Peer Mentorship at EOD conference 

Emily EOD Conference 2022 1
Emily EOD Conference 2022 1
This year, NSF EPSCoR welcomed representatives from its various jurisdictions nationwide to its first Education, Outreach, and Diversity Conference to learn more about EOD and science communication. Emily Wendte represented Guam NSF EPSCoR at the event as its education and workforce development program associate.

From mentorship opportunities to training programs, Education, Outreach, and Diversity (EOD) is one of the central aspects to any NSF EPSCoR project. This year, NSF EPSCoR welcomed representatives from its various jurisdictions nationwide to its first Education, Outreach, and Diversity Conference to learn more about EOD and science communication.  

The conference took place in South Carolina from September 11 to September 14, 2022.  

Emily Wendte represented Guam NSF EPSCoR at the event as its education and workforce development program associate. As part of Wendte’s responsibilities, she coordinates activities between students, faculty, and project partners.  

Along with Cheryl Sangueza, Ph.D., the student program coordinator for Guam NSF EPSCoR, Wendte presented a slideshow entitled, “Communicating Science Through the Lens of Culture and Identity,” which focused on the Near-Peer Mentorship model that Guam NSF EPSCoR uses to encourage its student researchers to think about science communication and the importance of their work. 

Once a month, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from Guam NSF EPSCoR connect with the program’s undergraduate student researchers as well as those from the NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Islands Alliance Guam Hub to talk about their personal experiences as they develop their careers in STEM, advice, as well as better ways to make their research more accessible to the local populace.  

“What’s unique for us is that we’re talking about culture and identity through science communication without losing the integrity of their research,” said Wendte. “They’re thinking about how their work not only makes an impact on a global perspective, but also how it’s important locally and how they’re influencing their local environment and community.”  

For these researchers, talking to each other allows them to be more reflective of their projects as well as support each other.  

“The reception to the presentation was phenomenal,” said Wendte. “The students’ work and what they did really shone through. I talked about how our Near Peer sessions worked and the prompts we would give them to encourage them to talk to each other and relate their experiences to things outside science, within science, and their experiences.”  

Wendte said that after the presentation, representatives from other NSF EPSCoR jurisdictions came up to her to talk about ways they could better serve their students.  

“Guam is in a great position to show the world what we are doing and how it can be done,” said Wendte. “When I was just starting off in education, someone shared with me this important motto: the responsibility of knowing is sharing. I always took that to heart, and I feel that is what Dr. Sangueza and I did with this presentation. We were able to make people think about their programs and what they can do for their students.” 

 

UOG researcher delivers keynote address at marine sciences conference  

AMSA 2022 Photo 2

As part of his keynote address for the “The Biology, Ecology, and Management of Marine Nuisance Species” symposium at the 58th Annual Conference of the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA), UOG Senior Research Associate Ciemon Caballes talked about key knowledge gaps in crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) research as well as recent advances the field of study has achieved.  

The event was held from August 7 to August 11, 2022, in Cairns, Australia, and was the biggest AMSA conference in history. It was also the first face-to-face AMSA meeting since 2019.  

Caballes is an executive committee member of the North Queensland Branch of the Australian Marine Sciences Association and was also part of the organizing committee for this conference. As part of his work funded by the University of Guam’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant, his research focuses on ecophysiology as well as echinoderm and coral ecology.  

Crown-of-thorns starfish are marine invertebrates that feed on coral and occur naturally on reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific region. These starfish are one of the largest and most efficient coral predators, and when conditions are right and if left unchecked, outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish can devastate hard coral communities.  

Caballes’ presentation was based on a study in which 38 expert participants proposed research questions regarding areas such as the feeding ecology of COTS, predation, settlement, and environmental change. According to Caballes, this research is based in the Great Barrier Reef, but is applicable to everywhere there is COTS.  

“It is basically a roadmap for future research and what the recent advances are regarding crown-of-thorns-starfish,” said Caballes.  

Advances in crown-of-thorn starfish research include new survey methods which can cover large areas of reef and allow divers to find hidden starfish that would not have been found before using conventional survey methods.  

Another novel survey method involves taking water samples to detect DNA shed by COTS and larval traps to determine where and when these starfish are settling onto the reef after their planktonic larval stage.  

“It’s very important to study crown-of-thorns starfish especially here in Guam because we’ve been getting COTS outbreaks ever since they were first observed in the late ‘60s,” said Caballes. During this time, massive outbreaks of COTS on Guam killed over 90 percent of the corals from Tumon to Double Reef.”  

Recent surveys have also identified hotspots of high COTS densities with associated coral mortality around Guam. 

2022 GRA: Meet our new graduate research assistants!  

Xavier De Ramos

This year, Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomed six new members of its Graduate Research Assistantship program. Over the next three years, these graduate students will receive mentorship, training, and fieldwork experience as they pursue their master’s degree.   

Grace Jackson 

Having grown up in a small beach town in Southern California, Grace Jackson has lived her life surrounded by water.  

“This instilled in me the love for the ocean and later my scientific curiosity,” said Jackson. “I applied to this program to increase my scientific proficiency where I could learn about a different ecosystem and culture that I have not experienced before. I am so glad to be a part of this program.”  

Under the guidance of Tom Schils, Ph.D., Jackson will study crustose coralline red algae, specifically of the genus Lithophyllum.  

CCRA is a group of marine seaweeds that deposits limestone like stony corals. They serve several important ecological functions on reefs, such as building and cementing reefs together or serving as the preferred settlement substrates for coral larvae, which then further develop into adult colonies. 

Lauren Kallen  

Lauren Kallen applied to the Guam NSF EPSCoR GRA program due to the benefits and support that the program provides to its students. Kallen was born and raised in Illinois and earned her bachelor’s degree in marine biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  

Kallen’s advisor is Sarah Lemer, Ph.D., whose work focuses on the study of marine invertebrates. Over the course of the program, Kallen will conduct research on Drupella snails, carnivorous marine snails that feed on coral. Her research will focus on outbreaks of these snails on coral reefs because in high densities, these snails can quickly decimate a reef.  

I am very excited and grateful to be in this program, it is an amazing opportunity. I am very interested in outreach and giving back to the beautiful community in Guam,” said Kallen.   

Garret O’Donnell  

While looking for potential graduate programs, Garret O’Donnell found out about the Guam NSF EPSCoR program through his mentors from the University of Florida. 

Under the guidance of David Combosch, Ph.D., O’Donnell will study Leptoria, a genus of brain coral. O’Donnell said that he is interested in Leptoria’s population genetics, spawning behavior, and abiotic stress responses to factors such as heat and low oxygen.  

Since coming to Guam, O’Donnell said that he appreciates the UOG Marine Laboratory community.  

“I think everyone there has been super welcoming and super cohesive as a unit and that’s been really cool to see,” said O’Donnell. “Everyone seems to know what everybody else is doing and that’s not something you always see in science. A lot of the time, labs are kind of isolated from each other. I like to see that there’s a lot of camaraderie amongst the students and the faculty.”   

Andrew O’Neill  

Throughout his life, Andrew O’Neill found a love for the ocean. As he pursued his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he wanted to specialize in ecology and conservation. Once he learned about the Guam NSF EPSCoR GRA program, he saw it as a unique opportunity to do research and help the environment.  

During the program, O’Neill will be advised by Atsushi Fujimura, Ph.D., and plans to focus on research the effects of sedimentation on Guam’s reef fish assemblages.  

“In my first semester here, I did some instructing with some of the undergraduate biology sections and through that, I learned the Guam has a huge sedimentation problem,” said O’Neill. “Lots of silt gets washed away from all the rains and the rivers and flows down to the coastal waters. I want to figure out what would be the worst-case scenario if we don’t fix this problem.”  

Xavier De Ramos  

Knowing that he wanted to find ways to help the island, De Ramos earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa. 

“Towards the halfway point of my time in college, I started thinking about Guam – my home,” said De Ramos. “I remember having a lasting impression after I went snorkeling and I was just blown away about what I saw down there. That got me thinking about what kind of issues Guam is facing or if there was anything I could do to contribute to research regarding its coral reefs.”  

De Ramos will be advised by Ciemon Caballes, Ph.D., whose research focuses on ecophysiology as well as coral and echinoderm ecology.  

“I feel very excited about learning more through this program and my graduate courses because I want to give back to the island,” said De Ramos. “At the end of the day, giving back to the island is all that matters to me.”  

Graduate biology student attends University of Washington summer research program 

Therese Miller Photo 2

University of Guam graduate biology student and Guam NSF EPSCoR graduate research assistant Therese Miller gained research experience this summer through a course held by the University of Washington. The class was called Biodiversity and Integrative Taxonomy of Invertebrates and was held at the university’s field station in Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island from July 18 to August 18, 2022.  

The course focused on methods for documenting and describing the species-level diversity of invertebrate animals through activities such as field trips to collect samples, dissecting, photography, and genetics work.  

The class was taught by two instructors: Gustav Paulay, Ph.D., a curator and professor at the University of Florida who served as the director of the UOG Marine Laboratory from 1991 to 2000 and has extensive experience in studying marine invertebrate zoology.  

Kevin Kocot, Ph.D., a curator and professor at the University of Alabama, hosted workshops on bioinformatics and studying meiofauna. Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that develops software and tools to understand biological data. Meiofauna are small invertebrates that live on or near the bottom of bodies of water.  

“Together, they not only encouraged our passions for studying marine biodiversity but also equipped us with the tools to further our careers,” said Miller.  

Over the course of the program, Miller worked on a research project that involved describing species of blood stars (Henricia), a sea star found along the Pacific Coast which is typically red-orange in color but can vary from tan to almost purple. 

“Historically, what appear to be several different species are all called the same name in the literature or are left undescribed,” said Miller. “My project entailed collecting about 50 specimens of these sea stars and taking DNA from them to see how closely they were genetically related.”  

During the course, she found two specimens of a species that were the first to be sampled in the Juan de Fuca Island strait. This species had previously been found along California and Oregon.  

Throughout her time in Washington, Miller was able to see cultural aspects of San Juan Island such as various small farms throughout the island as well as a fishing vessel that belonged to the indigenous Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest.   

“It was fascinating to learn about some of the native tribes that have lived in the area for several centuries,” said Miller. “I also relearned the importance of characterizing biodiversity in the anthropogenic age, particularly for marine species, which are largely understudied compared to terrestrial fauna. This is especially important to me living on Guam since marine biodiversity here is so rich and there is so much to research and explore. I felt this course really inspired me to open my eyes more to the world around me and consider what species here have yet to be identified.” 

 

Six new graduate research assistants join Guam NSF EPSCoR

2022 GRA Orientation Photo 2

Guam NSF EPSCoR welcomed six new members to its Graduate Research Assistantship program during an orientation held on Friday, August 26, 2022.  
 
Over the course of the three-year program, these six graduate research assistants will receive tuition coverage, a salary, as well as mentorship and support over the course of their graduate program as they conduct research regarding coral reefs, coastal systems, genetics and genomics, or identifying patterns of regional biodiversity.  
 
These new GRAs include Grace Jackson, Lauren Kallen, Andrew O’Neill, Xavier De Ramos, Zoe Trumphour, and Garret O’Donnell.  
 
“I would like to welcome our new students to the program,” said Terry Donaldson, the principal investigator and director of the Guam NSF EPSCoR program. “You will get to utilize equipment, instruments, and various assets to conduct your research that people used to dream about. When I was a student, a lot of this stuff had not been invented yet. You’ve earned your place here. We’re behind you and we want you to succeed.”  

The GRA program is part of Guam NSF EPSCoR’s goal to develop a research program to help ensure the sustainability of coral reef ecosystems in the face of environmental change. In total, Guam NSF EPSCoR now has 20 graduate research assistants.  
 
Each of the graduate research assistants were given free memberships to the Guam Green Growth Makerspace and Innovation Hub. Guam NSF EPSCoR helps support Guam Green Growth.  

“This is like a whole other fancy lab,” said Austin Shelton, Guam NSF EPSCoR’s co-principal investigator and the director of the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant. “Outside of campus, you can go down to the CHamoru Village in Hagatña and use 3D printers, CNC routers, and laser cutters as well as brand new terracotta printers. If anybody wants to use that to build tiles to start growing stuff on, you can plug in the 3D designs and start building there.”  

For three years, these students will be a part of a project that covers a diverse range of research areas.  

“For this grant, the research crux here involves understanding why some corals are more resilient than others, climate change and temperature increases, and watershed degradation and sedimentation,” said Bastian Bentlage, co-principal investigator of the Guam NSF EPSCoR. “We have a lot of associated research projects, as well. Some of you will focus on coralline algae, crustaceans, diatoms, as well as fish that spend part of their life in freshwater systems and then another in the ocean. There’s a broad variety of research areas, but the overarching theme is how our reefs will fare in a changing climate.”  

The new graduate research assistants will also be able to access near-peer mentorship opportunities in which they can learn from their peers and postdoctoral students as well as teach undergraduate and high school teachers over the course of their term. 

“This program is such a great opportunity, especially for master’s students,” said Garret O’Donnell, a new graduate research assistant. “It’s very well-funded compared to a lot of master’s programs. When it comes to other universities, sometimes students would have to pay for their positions, so it’s helpful to have a salary on top of my tuition coverage that allows me to do this.”  

Five students gain valuable experience through summer research program  

2022 PSU Photo 1

Over the course of eight weeks, five undergraduate students gained valuable scientific experience, discovered more about themselves, and explored different research areas through the NSF INCLUDES: SEAS Bridge to Ph.D. Program held at Pennsylvania State University.  

These student researchers include Louise Pascua, Gabriella Prelosky, Anela Duenas, Anna Aguirre, and Merry Remetira.  

For these student researchers, it was their first time participating in an off-island research program. The program was held from June to August 2022.  

“My experience during the summer was so much fun! I was able to do research on something I had zero experience in which was terrifying but also very enjoyable,” said Louise Pascua, a biology major and a 2022 Guam NSF EPSCoR student researcher. “It’s a little cliche to say, however I do believe that my love for science has been re-ignited. I made many life-long friends and built many professional relationships, while also finding myself.”  

During the program, Pascua was placed under the mentorship of Jason Rasgon, an entomology professor at PSU. For her independent research project, she focused on genetically modifying eye color in Culex tarsalis mosquitoes using ReMOT Control. ReMOT Control is similar to CRISPR technology however ReMOT Control injects the adults to send the gene cutting complex to the embryos rather than injecting the embryos directly, according to Pascua.  

Anela Duenas, a biology major and 2021 NSF SEAS research fellow, experienced some culture shock when it came to conducting research in a new environment.  

“This program made me realize that I am more interested in the ecological aspects of research after working with more hands-on activities in the greenhouse for my project,” said Duenas. “I also experienced a culture shock when first arriving to the United States as it was my first time. A culture shock not only because of a new location but also in science. It was incredible to witness the laboratories and equipment available to students at Pennsylvania State University. Overall, it was very eye opening and made me excited to be in this field.”  
 
Under the mentorship of Francesco Di Gioia, an assistant professor at PSU, Duenas studied alternative growing media for the production of microgreens.  

Over the course of the program, the student researchers faced challenges and research areas they were not familiar with all while gaining the skills and knowledge to become confident in their ability to adapt and persevere.  

“There was definitely a learning curve with certain aspects of my research just because there were procedures or techniques that I haven’t done beforehand,” said Anna Aguirre, a biology student and a 2021 NSF SEAS research fellow. “However, I did my part with taking notes and trying to be as proactive in learning as I can be and suddenly the learning curve was not so intimidating.”  

Aguirre studied plant pathology and environmental microbiology under Sharifa Crandall, an assistant professor at PSU. For her project, she looked at how soil steaming and later final beneficial and pathogenic amendments might affect plant growth.  

For one student, this experience helped them learn how to speak up when they need help. 

“My main challenge is that I have insecurities when it comes to what I know and what I can offer,” said Merry Remetira, a civil engineering student and a 2021 NSF SEAS research fellow. “This in turn can make me fear reaching out to a mentor and explaining what I really feel. I tend to just accept what is instructed of me and try not to question anything. I was also advised to stop apologizing so much, that to only apologize when responsibility is due. That was a truly enlightening experience and I will work on that challenge.”   

Remetira was mentored by Margaret Byron, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at PSU. For her project, she studied how oil-particle aggregates formed using a roller tank to simulate how particles would interact in the environment.  

For Gabriella Prelosky, a biology student and a 2021 NSF SEAS research fellow, being in the program helped renew her excitement for science and her future. 
  
Prelosky studied under Natalie Boyle, an assistant research professor at PSU. Her research project involved calculating the lethal dose curve of 50% of alfalfa leaf cutting bees using an insecticide compound known as acetamiprid in varying doses.  

“This experience most definitely has affected my goals. Before participating in the bridge program, I was almost certain I did not want to pursue a master’s degree after graduating next spring due to extreme burnout, but this program showed me both the highs and lows in a positive light. I now know that after a break, I am definitely going for a master’s,” said Prelosky. “My advice for this program, but also others, be confident in yourself. Things may not go how you want it the first time, but the more you fall, the more you learn!” 
 

Graduate students publish paper on upside-down jellyfish

Jellyfish Photo 2

A new study by University of Guam researchers has found that differences in upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea ornata) populations found in Guam waters may be environmentally driven. 

The study, which was funded by the university’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant, was published in May in Zoomorphology, a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the form and structure of invertebrates and vertebrates.   

Upside-down jellyfish spend most of their time with their bells resting on the seafloor of shallow, coastal waters. By lying upside-down, the jellyfish expose the photosymbiotic algae living inside their arms toward the sun. Photosymbiosis is a type of symbiotic relationship between two organisms in which one organism is capable of photosynthesis.   

Upside-down jellyfish can sustain themselves off the byproducts of the algae and can capture zooplankton for additional energy to grow.   

The study involved examining two upside-down jellyfish populations from Cocos Lagoon and Piti Channel. Because both populations were different in size, color, and shape, the researchers initially thought they were two different species.   

“Upon doing a little genetic work, we determined that they were the same species. So instead of it being species-level morphology differences, we determined that it was environment-level morphology differences,” said lead author Colin Anthony, a UOG graduate student studying biology. “The environments we pulled them from are very different. Cocos Lagoon had turbid, sediment-laden water and the water in Piti Channel was very clear.”   

According to the study, it may be possible that these different environments affect the way these jellyfish acquire sustenance.  

“If they’re in a little more turbid or muddy water, they may rely more on their hunting skills and releasing their stinging structures and using heterotrophy to feed versus if they’re in clearer water, they would use more photosynthetic capabilities,” said co-author MacKenzie Heagy, a UOG graduate student studying biology.   

Studying upside jellyfish is important for several reasons: some species are considered invasive, with the potential to impact the use of waterways when congregating in large numbers. Upside-down jellyfish can also serve as environmental indicators for nutrient pollution and microplastics.   

Because they are close relatives of corals, which also share the same bond with photosymbiotic algae, upside-down jellyfish are being used as a model to study coral without having to harm coral populations.   

A community effort   

This project would not have been possible without the community at the UOG Marine Laboratory and was a collaborative effort of two researchers in different disciplines. Under the mentorship of UOG Associate Professor Bastian Bentlage, Anthony studies cnidarians such as jellyfish, coral, and hydroids while Heagy studies algae, which are photosynthetic organisms, under UOG Professor Tom Schils.   

Locating the Cocos Lagoon population was achieved by UOG Marine Technician II Johnathan A. Perez, who grew up seeing them at his aunt’s house in Malesso.   

“The only way we found the populations is through people who have lived here their whole lives,” said Anthony. “They knew they were here, but they hadn’t been scientifically documented. We owe finding these populations to our friends who helped us and grew up here.”  

Heagy said that she is grateful for being able to study in an environment that has been encouraging when it comes to conducting research.  

“This is the perfect place to do this work,” said Heagy. “There are so many resources and we’re so lucky to be here. Guam gives you so many resources and so many questions to ask and so many things to think about. The marine laboratory and EPSCoR have given us so many opportunities to ask questions.” 

Musicians connect with community at G3 Makerspace  

G3 Workshop 2

Two Guam-grown musicians talked story about their roots and culture as part of the second installment of the Guam Green Growth Makerspace’s “Seed Talk Sessions,” a series of developmental opportunities offered by the facility in which industry professionals engage island community members to stimulate creativity and encourage local entrepreneurship. The event took place at the facility’s innovation hub in the CHamoru Village on July 1, 2022.  

Born and raised in Guam, Peter “Håle’” Cruz grew up listening to classic rock and eventually transitioned into creating reggae music. For five years, he played with local island band Table for Five. Upon moving stateside, Cruz joined Tribal Theory, a reggae group, and toured the United States, Guam, and Hawai’i. After departing Tribal Theory in 2019, he formed Håle, which focuses on Marianas reggae music and draws inspiration from the CHamoru culture and Guam.  

Shiabe “Bok” Pangelinan grew up in Yigo in a musically talented family. The son of the late Frank “Bokonggo” Pangelinan, a traditional CHamoru musician, Pangelinan played the local music scene with D.U.B. and Soul Vibes. Much of his music is inspired by his CHamoru heritage and culture.  

During their presentation at the G3 innovation hub, Cruz and Pangelinan shared guidance on how to be a successful musician on Guam. They discussed earning royalties, distribution, and general tips about the music industry.  

“I wanted to talk about the life and the struggle of being someone who left Guam and trying to make it happen for themselves,” said Cruz. “I think that’s really important. If it wasn’t for that part of my life and being with the CHamoru community here, I don’t think I would be here.”  

When asked about what advice they would give to aspiring musicians, Cruz and Pangelinan said to be driven and take risks when you can.  

“Whenever you play, keep in mind that you don’t know who’s going to be in that crowd,” said Pangelinan. “It can be the worst gig, but you shouldn’t dismiss them. I’d play in random bars and people would ask me for my number and I’d have a better gig set up. A lot of the times people are scared, but when you push yourself to a point where you know what’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. You can’t second guess yourself.”  

Math students present research on coral reef dynamics

2022 SMRP Photo 1

Six students presented their research about the effects of coral bleaching, coral diseases, rising temperatures, and controlling crown-of-thorns (COTS) starfish populations using mathematical modeling this summer as part of the 2022 Summer Joint Math Research Program showcase held on July 15. The students – five undergraduate students and one high school student – were part of the 2022 Summer Math Research Experience held from May 23 to July 16 at the University of Guam.  

The program was part of the Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium for Corals & Oceans (GECCO) project, funded by the university’s Guam NSF EPSCoR grant. 

“You’ve inspired research by what I have seen from the titles of your projects,” said Austin Shelton, the director of the UOG Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant, during the showcase’s opening remarks. “These are the kinds of things the community needs to understand our coastal and terrestrial resources.”  

The Summer Math Research Experience was held in conjunction with two other research programs: the Young Research Experience in Mathematics and the National Research Experience for Undergraduates Program.  

Using data collected from researchers at the UOG Marine Laboratory, the models were developed to use as a tool to forecast changes in the island’s coral reefs.  

“Creating these mathematical models is important so that we can see and predict the changes from these environmental situations,” said UOG Assistant Professor Mathematics Jaeyong Choi, one of the program’s mentors. ”Using the mathematical models, we can use them to simulate situations based on the data collected from the researchers at the marine laboratory.”  

During the program, the students were split into two teams to focus on two projects.  

The first group looked at whether rising sea surface temperatures were a bigger threat to Acropora pulchra and Porites populations than crown-of-thorns starfish, which prey on stony coral. Outbreaks of these starfish can cause severe damage to coral reefs over just a few weeks.  

 “Applying math to science feels like you’re exploring,” said Siwen “Lulu” Shao, a high school student at St. John’s Catholic School. “You never encounter the same problem. When we built this complex mathematical model, all you have to do is change numbers and parameters and this model would be able to apply to any COTS and any coral relationship in the world.” 

The second group focused on how two different coral species – Acropora pulchra and Porites massive – react in situations of bleaching and disease along with how the presence of seaweed inhibits their ability to recover. 

“Being in this program has been pretty amazing and eye-opening,” said Ernie Samelo, an undergraduate mathematics major at the University of Guam. “I’ve learned a lot of stuff about math and applying it in real life and coral. Corals are something I never thought would have so many layers to it. I’ve loved every moment of this program.” 

Five students join summer math program

SMRE 2022 Photo 1
SMRE 2022 Photo 1
Five students have been welcomed to the 2022 Summer Research Experience, a six-week research program from May 13 to July 26, 2022 that will have students study mathematical models of coral reef responses to climate change.

Five students have been welcomed to the 2022 Summer Math Research Experience, a six-week research program from May 13 to July 26, 2022 that will have students study mathematical models of coral reef responses to climate change.

During the program, students will gain experience with industry-standard software, network with participants in other summer research programs, and develop skills in oral presentations and technical reports.

“I’m looking forward to this experience because this will be my first time being in a research program,” said Ernie Samelo, an undergraduate in mathematics. “I want to experience everything and apply what I’ve learned in math to this research.”

In addition, the program welcomed two research assistants who will assist the GECCO students along with those who are participating in other concurrent summer math programs such as the National Research Experience for Undergraduates Program.

“I look forward to learning from everyone and I hope everyone can learn from me,” said Cabrini Aguon, an undergraduate in mathematics. “It’ll be a mutual exchange of growth throughout this process.” Over the course of the program, the students will use data collected from the Common Garden Project, a four-year EPSCoR-funded study launched last year that will examine three habitat-forming coral species over a multi-year span and their responses to environmental change.

“Math is the language of nature. You can describe the processes of nature using mathematical models,” said UOG Associate Professor Bastian Bentlage. “If you have a good model, you can identify certain key parameters that are important for corals’ response to stress, and you can make informed decisions about reef management planning and intervention strategies.”

Skip to content